As a divorce and family lawyer whenever a new client approaches me for advice on reaching a financial settlement with their ex I find myself reminding them what a valuable asset a pension is. A pension is often the second most valuable asset anyone will ever hold (next to their house) and the older you are, the longer you’ve been paying into a pension, the greater the value.
Sometimes I despair – and this is one of them. Back in August I blogged explaining that, as a firm, we are backing the Resolution campaign to make no blame divorce a reality (Join the campaign for no blame divorce). All 22 of our specialist family lawyers wrote to their local MPs around the country to call for their support in making divorce less painful for those involved. I, myself, wrote to MPs in Leamington and Stratford to call for their support.
So why despair, I hear you ask? The limited and ill-informed response we’ve had is why.
It would be difficult to have missed the recent significant press coverage about two cases where wives have gone to the Supreme Court to seek to overturn financial orders made in their divorce proceedings.
The cases have slightly different facts – Alison Sharland’s divorce was clearly a "big-money case”, where the point in question was whether her husband's company was worth £31- £47 million (as he had stated at the time, which had led her to accept £10 million in cash plus some properties) or, rather, more like £1 billion as was subsequently reported in the financial press.
I came across some interesting figures this week. The average age at which women marry is 37.0 years, according to ONS, slightly lower than the male mean age of 38.6 years. Seem high? Well maybe not if I tell you that these figures relate to same-sex marriage. For hetero-sexual couples, the ages are significantly lower: just under 30 for women and just over 30 for men.
Spain has the largest British expat community in Europe so it’s perhaps no surprise the volume of calls we receive from people who live in Spain asking whether they can use the English court system to start divorce proceedings. I am often not the first family law solicitor they have consulted and sometimes they have received very conflicting information. Unsurprisingly they are confused and frustrated by the apparent lack of information and indeed knowledge from the family law profession.